raysox

24/M looking for tips on freelancing

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I hope that title drew your attention.

 

So anyone who does design professionally like myself cuts their teeth doing freelance work. I always thought I was on the cheaper side as I tried to build a portfolio to show off and land a full time job. My going rate for soccer crests are $200-300 depending on the team, but regularly do stuff for cheaper if it's, say a fantasy football logo.

 

But I do have a full time job and could always use some more cash on the side. I got approached by a startup company looking for branding help. I asked some close friends and they told me day rates and hourly stuff. I did the math and matched the day rate of a friend. He wanted a number, so I dropped down what'd be around 9k for a month of hard work to 6k After I named my price to the startup he said i was 5x over what other people asked for and moved on from me.

I know the old saying is that you're going to price out some jobs but the ones who can pay your price will make up for the lost revenue. But damn, that really sucked to lose that potential big deal.

 

I'm in a position where there's a possibility I leave my current job and move in with my girlfriend when she goes back for the doctorate program, and have to find a stream of income if there isn't a design job that falls into my lap. 

Thanks!

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I don't do a ton of freelancing since I'm terrible at both self-managing and negotiating, but I do know some things about working for startups.  Mainly, startups are a lot of work for little pay, that's just how they tend to roll as the company figures out how to exist.  That being said, if (and I mean IF) they are successful it can turn into a really great opportunity.  I've been working for Teespring for 5 years now, and when I started it was a company of about 30 people who were all doing the work of 100 people, and now I lead the design team.  

 

Granted, that's the exception and not the rule and more startups fail than succeed, so it's always a gamble.  Either way, startups tend to inflate titles so even if they fail it'll look good on a resumé!

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Whatever you do, don't devalue yourself.  If you talk to colleagues in the same industry, see what the going rate seems to be.  You may have already done it, but every potential customer is a different opportunity.  This startup might've been trying to do things on the cheap and might be attempting to get a lot for a little.

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dont worry about that job you lost. your price was perfectly reasonable for a month-long project (highly likely it would run longer) for branding a start up company.

 

when i was just starting out, i took on everything and most projects they told me what they wanted to pay. if a project was worth $300 i'd do it, but only spend a couple of days on it and make that clear to the client. its not fair to the designer but when times are tough and no one knows you, $300 is worth it. i did a lot of work, fast, built up a portfolio and stayed afloat. barely. one thing i wish i had realized back then is, when you go on your own full-time, you're not an amateur anymore. you're a working professional. double all your prices today and raise them every 6-12 months. 

 

make friends with your clients, or at least the ones you like, and treat them as such. sometimes they'll ask "can you make this for me real quick?". just do it and dont charge them, when it makes sense. take care of them and they'll take care of you. their company is your company.

 

when you dont have a project going, approach the day like you have a full day of work to do anyway. keep your portfolio up to date (dribbble and behance too) and work on the things you want to work on. make something, then sell it.

 

never call yourself a "freelancer". i prefer Independent Graphic Artist, but whatever you prefer, just dont say "freelancer". 

 

i think you know enough people now, you have a good network you can reach out to. i've always found that whenever i reached out to someone with a question or looking for advice, they were more than willing to help so dont ever be afraid of that. i think you have my email as well, feel free to write any time and ill help best i can. 

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32 minutes ago, BrandMooreArt said:

work on the things you want to work on. make something, then sell it.

 

I came in to write this. You may even find in time that this angle is both more rewarding and lucrative than client work.

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That 6k number is probably what they should pay you. If the company is worth a hill of beans their brand image will be valuable and worth a hell of a lot more than $6,000. It sucks that you didn't get that work, but I think it's good that you charged that much. If you quote 6k for projects eventually people will give you 6k and when that happens that's when you start quoting 7, 8, 10, 15 etc, etc. 


Communication is key. If their budget is low you have to be transparent and let them know what that means for you, for them, and for the work. Cheap, good, fast, pick two is real. I've lowballed offers and ended up doing a ton more work than I initially thought and regretted it. I calculated my hourly rate one time on a project as less than $3 an hour. I won't make that mistake again. In some of those cases I know the client would've paid 4 to 5 times as much as I quoted if I'd just gotten more information up front and the lines of communication were more open. They were probably psyched and/or laughing that they got work for so little. Conversely, I've highballed (?) offers thinking it would get them to go away and they've said yes or they come back and still say "wow less than I thought". The lesson is set terms for yourself and stick to your guns. You're good enough that someone will pay you to create for them.

 

I also think it helps everyone in this business if we establish/define how much this stuff is supposed to cost. Most people understand that you have to pay artists for their work, but aren't sure exactly what that number is. There's also a lot of normals who see this as a non-serious hobby that we just do for fun (I mean, I do do it for fun, but I make a living with it too. That's why it's the best). If we can define as an industry how much we should be getting charged that can only help all commercial artists. You wouldn't offer to pay a carpenter, for example, a hundred dollars to build a deck and there's way more people who can do that than can do what we can do.

 

They're not paying for the work, so much as they're paying for training, experience, talent, time, and paying you so someone less capable doesn't taint the entire business with a crappy brand stink before it gets off the ground. 

 

I have enough side work now that I'm pretty busy, but when times are lean is when I update portfolios and check out others work, like Brandon said. If I'm not working on something for someone else I try to make sure that I create something new every day. You can always get better and you can always learn. Just last night I was :censored:ing around on my tablet and stumbled onto something that I'm pretty excited about using in future projects moving forward. 

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On 12/19/2018 at 5:11 PM, raysox said:

I hope that title drew your attention.

 

So anyone who does design professionally like myself cuts their teeth doing freelance work. I always thought I was on the cheaper side as I tried to build a portfolio to show off and land a full time job. My going rate for soccer crests are $200-300 depending on the team, but regularly do stuff for cheaper if it's, say a fantasy football logo.

 

But I do have a full time job and could always use some more cash on the side. I got approached by a startup company looking for branding help. I asked some close friends and they told me day rates and hourly stuff. I did the math and matched the day rate of a friend. He wanted a number, so I dropped down what'd be around 9k for a month of hard work to 6k After I named my price to the startup he said i was 5x over what other people asked for and moved on from me.

I know the old saying is that you're going to price out some jobs but the ones who can pay your price will make up for the lost revenue. But damn, that really sucked to lose that potential big deal.

 

I'm in a position where there's a possibility I leave my current job and move in with my girlfriend when she goes back for the doctorate program, and have to find a stream of income if there isn't a design job that falls into my lap. 

Thanks!

 

I believe you may have actually dodged a bullet with the start-up.

 

If you do leave a full time gig, keep in mind you’ll be finding/paying your own insurance. A lot of folks overlook that when going out on their own. They think they’ll just need to bring in something comparable to their previous salary to maintain a similar lifestyle. Best of luck to you!

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